As a child my first memory of beauty and womanhood was wrapped up in scent, more specifically my mother who was to me the most elegant woman I knew. Her style, hair, makeup and accessories were always on point but she was never fully dressed until her perfume had been applied just before walking out the door. I learnt than that an outfit is not complete until complimented with perfume. Desperate to be just like her I was always sneaking into her room to experiment with the several bottles of perfume she kept on her dresser. On one wrist I would spray Chanel, YSL on the other and for good measure several sprays of Lancôme on my neck and immediately felt transformed into the sophisticated lady I craved to be. Fortunately, I have learnt that less is more since the early nineties. I understood in those moments the transformative power of perfume and as the years have progressed how defining scent can be. It has the power to reignite memories long forgotten, comfort you when you are alone and missing those in your life or even remind you of heartbreak when a fleeting aromatic presence reminds you of someone you once loved.
To me perfume is the symbol of femininity, sensuality and can be a defining characteristic of how we present ourselves to the world and how others remember us. In addition, my experience with perfume as a little girl was further wrapped up in romance and travel. You see my father travelled extensively for work during my formative years but he would always return with perfume for my mother and sometimes for me too. To this day I still believe it is the ultimate gentlemanly gesture because selecting the right scent demonstrated a level of intimacy in order to know what would compliment a woman and speak to her personality. Perfume selection is a personal matter and I always found it romantic that my father got it right every time and I still dream for the day someone will know me as well as my father knew my mother.
With this love affair for perfume starting before I could even read these bottles of liquid gold it was a must for me to attend the Cinquiéme Sens Perfume Workshop conducted by the Samantha Taylor of The Powder Room over the weekend. Not only did feel like I was back in Paris but it was inspiring to be under the tutelage of a woman so passionate, accomplished and knowledgeable. With Cinquiéme Sens being the global leader in perfumery training and olfactive experiences there is a reason why their extensive client list includes luxury brands from Chanel, Cartier to Givenchy and Dior namely there is clear respect and pure love for the craftsmanship which Samantha Taylor embodies.
I have walked away with a new found admiration for perfume, from its history, power and of course the chemistry behind it and the masters who dedicate their lives to a profession to make women feel beautiful. Going forward there is no doubt that my experience with The Powder Room has made me a more informed consumer and I have a new found appreciation for professionals like Samantha who dedicate their time to sensory branding and creating spaces where the atmosphere has been carefully curated to make our experience as customers that much more memorable.
In closing I have realised that as women our experiences and choices with perfume become bookmarks to our lives.
J’adore by Dior was one of the first bottles of perfume I owned as a little girl, a hand me down from my mother who having been gifted a new bottle by my father allowed me to wear it for special occasions. I thought it was the most beautiful item I owned and would spray a little on for ballet recitals or sneak it into my school bag to apply in the girls bathroom in Year 6 to impress my crush.
Angel by Thierry Mulger was my signature scent as a teenager as I grew into a woman, feeling invincible yet trying to find myself and desperately trying to act more mature than I was.
Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker was my signature scent as a young twenty something experiencing what it meant to fall in love, feel young with the world at my feet and of course experience heartbreak for the first time.
Hypnose by Lancôme, so distinctive and feminine, became my signature scent as a woman entering the professional work place, finding her voice and was the perfect accessory for after work drinks on a Friday afternoon.
Romance by Ralph Lauren is a scent that signalled a changing time in my life where I travelled the world, lived abroad in multiple countries and is a scent tied up to my days in Dubai as a flight attendant, to life back in London and Dublin with the man of my dreams and pure happiness as I explored this wide world.
Now having entered my thirties I am ready for a new scent to symbolise the start of a new chapter, new beginnings and a new me. Perhaps I am ready for Chanel No 5 or perhaps in a full circle moment I will go back to my beloved J’adore.
That is the beauty of perfume, you can reinvent yourself with a single spray of magic.